This is the last post I am doing this year. “Sam why are you telling us that, we probably wouldn’t even notice?” Because if I say it out loud I am setting a boundary for myself. A much-needed one, because if it was totally up to me, all I would work on was things for this site and podcast. That is one of the many things I learned this year that I hope to not forget. In the insanity roller coaster that was 2020, I learned more about myself than maybe any other year in my life. I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way. So I thought I’d share some of the things I have learned, not just to save for later when I forget and act like a total monster on some random 2023 day, but also because I think you’ve probably felt the same.
For so long I thought “boundaries” were for bad relationships or intruding parents, but I have come to realize boundaries can exist between you and yourself. And they became essential to me this year. For example: when every casting person was doing IG Lives, 37 self-tape challenges were happening, and free Zoom fitness classes were all the rage, I had to take a step back and realize why I felt so shitty. I didn’t want to do most of these things. I had my own podcast to work on. I already had an at-home fitness routine that I loved. And every self-tape challenge made me hate self-taping because our newly adopted 3rd dog was making home-life challenging in and of itself. And deep down, I really wanted a taste of that collective break so many people (outside of our industry) were feeling. I had to take some time and sit with these feelings because I assumed not wanting to do these things at this moment made me a bad actor, uncommitted, and lazy. Turns out, I just really needed boundaries for myself. Spinning my wheels to do what everyone else is doing while neglecting my own thoughts and feelings resulted in really shitting thoughts and feelings. So every time a Jenna Doolittle email arrived (thank god for Jenna, definitely listen to her podcast episode!) I would read it, save the links for the 1-3 talks or zooms I wanted to attend or catch later, and then delete it. This was my self-care. And then when I did participate is something, I showed up with intention. This is the tip of my boundary-setting iceberg. I’ll let you know what happens next.
Caleb is so great at turning “off”. He loves to sit on the couch on Sunday’s and watch football for 6-7 hours and drink a beer and order Electric Owl burgers. This makes him happy and recharges him for his work on Monday. So I tried it, in fact, I’ve tried it several times. And it makes me anxious as fuck. Now I love football and a good beer, but instead of relaxing, this same sequence of events made me feel stagnant. And I would go to bed tossing and turning about all the things I needed to do or how gross I felt. The same thing happened in quarantine, when I set myself some time to binge-watch tv (something I almost never do) I would just spiral. So I started testing out other ways to unwind. I’ll write a post about my bedtime routine in a bit, but that has been exponentially helpful. Also watching content (YouTube, tv shows, movies, even IGTV or TikTok) feels like research or study to me. I can’t turn off my creator-brain. But reading books feels like floating on a god damn cloud. Same with having a drink (more on that below), if it’s alcohol it’s not relaxing for me. But painting my nails while listening to a podcast and having a cup of peppermint tea brings me to a more sizable state of chill.
“Oh god, here comes another blogger telling us about how she doesn’t drink!” might be your first thought but no, I do still drink. I love a different cocktail or red wine or a really delicious craft beer. However this year with the amount of free time I had to slow the fuck down and experiment with how my body reacted to different things, I have found that having more than 1-2 drinks made my anxiety sky-rocket a few hours later. Which also effected my sleep. Which also made me mean. And a mean anxious girl is not someone you want to be in lockdown with. Sure, when my world goes back to including things like bars (*sigh) I may get excited to venture out and maybe things will feel different, but knowing where I can control my anxiety, especially right now, has been pivotal to maintaining my sanity.
I love homework. You probably do too, since most actors reading actor-blogs are some level of type A nerd (all love). But not all homework/busy work is helpful. I can (and will) write a whole post on this, but learning the difference between real action steps and busy work is crucial. Remember in elementary school when the substitute teacher would hand out worksheets that were so lame and stuff you already covered? That is busy work. I have to keep my goals in mind (long term, yearly, quarterly, and weekly) and make sure the work I am doing is action steps to these goals. Remember above when I mentioned spinning my wheels to do actor-activities just because they were offered to me or because everyone else as doing them? This is where that comes in. So as cool as a full VO workshop would be, that is not on my goals list for next year. And spending time taking that workshop is actually detracting from the time I could be reading scripts and bettering my script-analysis skills, something I am actively working on for 2021 theatrical work. That workshop is “motion”. Reading a script and watching it back is “action”.
I could not be more grateful for you all this year. One Broke Actress has been my lifeline in 2020. I know January 1st is going to look a lot like Dec 1st, but I am still thrilled about what next year will bring. I have so much to share and I can’t wait to bring you along for the ride. Thank you from the bottom on my sweatpants-clad heart for being the actors I needed to know this year. Let’s kick 2021’s ass.
Share with me your thoughts on this article and what you learned this year! Did this resonate with you??